The BBC is reporting that peers have said the next government must ensure that free childcare places in England are delivered without any extra costs to parents…
The Lords Committee on Affordable Childcare said the budget for providing free nursery places does not cover the cost of delivering them.
It said parents were often being forced to subsidise the free places.
The Department for Education said any parents being forced to pay should contact their local authority.
The free places scheme was first introduced in the late 1990s and expanded in the mid-2000s to cover more children, but the grant funding it has never kept pace with inflation.
Evidence heard by the committee suggests the funds, distributed by local authorities, do not cover the economic cost of delivering the free hours, particularly in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) settings.
PVI settings provide 60% of three-year-old places.
The committee found that 85% of private nurseries were making an average loss of £809 a year per child on the scheme.
Its report says the grant which funds private nursery places averages at £3.90 an hour, though the Department for Education has disputed the figure.
The report cites numerous examples of how shortfalls are being covered by parents paying extra for additional childcare time.
This often works by nurseries obliging parents to leave their children for an extra half an hour per three-hour session per day, for example, and then requiring them to pay a substantial fee for this extra time…
I’ve met a number of early years providers who claim they cannot make the sums add up on the government funding they receive per child per hour. Your thoughts and insights on this? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
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